On pouncing and flogging

Glad that the awful treacly paint finish is completed we moved on to the first coat of colour; having quickly and very loosely marked out where the opening to the sky will be, we painted the cream surround first.

In age-old fashion, I drew out my designs onto sheets of paper taped together, some are 4mx3m.


I then cut the sheets up into 1m squares to make them more manageable, carefully marking and numbering where they meet, rather like a dress pattern.

Then, laying it on a slab or styrofoam, we pierced the paper along the design using the point of a pair of compasses, literally making dotted lines. I haven’t a picture of the swirls being prepped but  here’s an example of the owl being prepared for pouncing, with the flogger next to the compasses.


We flipped the paper over and sanded the holes flat. Now we could tape the designs to the ceiling and “pounce” charcoal through the holes, I used alternately a nice thick lump of barbecue charcoal and coloured chalk, in the old days they would have used a muslin bag filled with powdered charcoal. (Incidentally I often use barbecue charcoal for drawing, it’s a lot cheaper than the stuff you buy in art shops and has a pleasingly rustic feel !)




After taking down the paper I flogged the ceiling lightly with my home-made “flogger”: kitchen roll wound round a bamboo stick, this gently blows the excess charcoal away leaving the faint design.


Lastly I mark the  design out with watercolour pencil ready for painting. I finally work my way round the ceiling painting into the design with various colours.The idea is to keep the ceiling airy and light, also, it has to look comfortably aged and lived in, so I’ve washed back certain areas to try and retain that feel; this is done as randomly as I can, always keeping an eye out for any patterns forming; it’s so easy to do if you lose concentration, you are forever fighting the brain against it’s natural inclination to repeat actions rhythmically.


Next, by letting the white primer show through, I painted in the sky with diluted blues and whites.


I roughly cut out many and various birds from scrap paper and positioned them by sticking them temporarily with masking tape, again fighting the pattern-maker in my brain, so now, hopefully, they look random and naturally dispersed. Next I drew them in detail directly in place with caran d’ache watercolour pencils, these I then ‘fixed’ by dabbing with acrylic varnish, so the outlines stayed whilst I painted in more detail.


All this is carried out under the watchful eye of old faithful:


and outside the workplace: the woodland has a glorious abundance of different greens


and these stumpy little vines are in their first stages for the next wine harvest, so neatly pruned, each with it’s 2 leading shoots tied into position.



20 thoughts on “On pouncing and flogging

    • Ha….we do go Marie-Claire! And will continue to do so for another couple of weeks, for as the details get smaller so the coverage takes longer, but we are on target I think. Hope you are wellxL

    • Hi Ellie, I’m beginning to creak a bit now, my neck is thrown back all week long, (having variable lenses in my glasses doesn’t help, however I’ve found that wearing them upside down does the trick!) then I was bent double all weekend weeding the garden, although I suppose the 2 positions counteract one another! Hope you are ok xL

  1. Only one word for it ……… Magnificent! Am not bothering you with messages at the moment, you must be flogged out. And in your birthday week, too! Lots of love and luck xx

  2. Quite amazing! Who knew? Can’t wait to see the finished thing, but it’s lovely to have your bulletins, makes me almost feel I’m there watching. xxx

  3. Such a lot of careful preparation work involved. I am very impressed and look forward (with the owner’s permission) to gaze upon the completed work? ❤

  4. Thanks for this wonderful post Liz, I had no idea how you actually went about this work and it’s fascinating seeing how it emerges and the processes you use. it looks hard work but very satisfying!

    • Hi Phil, yes it is hard work, partly because of the climbing up and down, pushing the bridge and manœvring the scaffolding into place, making sure the brakes are engaged so it won’t tumble into the pool, or forgetting a paint pot which is always the other end of the room or just out of reach, then dropping my favourite brush, and having to climb down again for the fourth time, it’s a wonder I actually get any paint on the ceiling at all! But now I’m on the home run, and feel happy to see the end goal in view at last, so I should be feeling satisfaction any time soon………

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